May 04

Handy vCenter Topology Script from virtuallyGhetto

Handy little script to generate a topology map (graph) of a vCenter and Platform Services Controller (PSC) deployment from virtuallyGhetto by @lamw.

Spun up a few vCenters and PSC in the lab to give it a try. In the lab there are two vCenter VCSAs each with embedded PSCs, in two different sites (LAB and LAB2), in the same SSO Domain. One site (LAB) has an External PSC.

Here is the graph generated by the script:


The vCenters and PSC were deployed with the IP address as the FQDN. I have not dug into it but I think this is why the vCenter with embedded PSC is not identified. Will do some more testing. Definitely a handy tool to have.

The script, installation, and usage instructions can be found here: Generating vCenter Server & Platform Services Controller deployment topology diagrams

May 02

Rapid VM Cloning Using SimpliVity’s REST API

The release of SimpliVity’s OmniStack 3.5 includes a number of great new features and functions which further expand the capabilities of the SimpliVity Data Virtualization Platform (DVP). One new feature which I am very excited about is the addition of a REST API. The SimpliVity REST API provides an easy way for administrators to create scripts for automating common tasks and reporting in a SimpliVity environment. The REST API also provides a path for third party software providers to integrate SimpliVity functionality into their monitoring and automation products.

This is the first GA release of the SimpliVity REST API. With this release an administrator can perform a number of operations on objects within the SimpliVity Federation including:

  • Virtual Machines – List, find, report, clone, and move
  • Backups – List, find, copy, and recover
  • Backup Policies – List, create, and edit
  • OmniStack Hosts – Reporting on health and capacity
  • Datastores – List, report, create, and delete

The SimpliVity REST API documentation can be accessed by pointing a browser to the management IP/FQDN to any OmniStack Virtual Controller (OVC) running in the OmniStack 3.5 environment: https://ovcmgmtip/api/index.html


SimpliVity REST API operations can also be performed directly from the OVC web interface.
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Apr 25

SimpliVity 3-2-1 Backups

The SimpliVity Data Virtualization Platform (DVP) provides native data protection including policy based backup, replication, and recovery. The backup policy engine and the backup catalog are part of the SimpliVity DVP. We are able to easily provide a data protection solution which aligns with a traditional and proven 3-2-1 Backup Strategy: 3 copies, 2 independent media sets, and 1 off-site copy.​

Here is an example of a simple SimpliVity backup policy:
In this policy there are two rules: the first rule creates a backup every 4 hours, retains the backup for 7 days, and stores the backup in the Raleigh Datacenter; the second rule creates a backup every 4 hours, retains the backup for 14 days, and stores the backup in the Tampa Datacenter. Each SimpliVity backup policy can be configured with up to 16 rules. So if we also wanted to take a backup every Sunday which we retain for 1 year, we can simply create another rule. If we want to replicate a monthly backup to another datacenter which we retain for 7 years, just create another rule. Backup policies are VM-centric, this allows for a policy to be applied directly to a VM based on that VM’s RPO.

So what happens when we take a SimpliVity backup and how can we claim to follow the 3-2-1 strategy?
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Apr 22

Book Review: IT Architect: Foundation in the Art of Infrastructure Design

Last week I ordered my copy of IT Architect: Foundation in the Art of Infrastructure Design.

The authors, John Arrasjid VCDX001 (@vcdx001), Mark Gabryjelski VCDX023 (@MarkGabbs), and Chris McCain VCDX017 (@hcmccain) have provided a fantastic book which can be used for reference, and as a guide, to developing an enterprise class datacenter infrastructure design. They also provide a tremendous amount of insight into the process of developing a design suitable for VCDX submission.

IT Architect: Foundation in the Art of Infrastructure Design is well written and an easy read. I read it cover to cover over a couple nights. I found myself marking multiple pages to refer back to. It is packed with a great deal of useful information for both the seasoned Architect and those who are looking to gain a bit more insight on the process for creating a high quality design. The book focuses on enterprise class, but the design process can easily be (and should be) applied to any size or type of datacenter design.
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Apr 19

Preparing Compute Nodes to Use SimpliVity DVP

With the efficiency SimpliVity’s Data Virtualization Platform (DVP) brings to data with accelerated inline deduplication, compression, and optimization SimpliVity customers often need to scale compute before they need to scale storage. As long as the SimpliVity environment is capable of providing the storage capacity and performance required the CPU and memory resources can be scaled out using what we call compute nodes. A compute node is simply a x86 server on VMware’s HCL which supports running ESXi. Compute nodes provide additional CPU and memory resources to the environment while consuming the SimpliVity DVP for storage. Using compute nodes is a native capability of the SimpliVty DVP and does not require any additional SimpliVity licensing.

Here is a conceptual diagram of a SimpliVity Datacenter leveraging a couple of HP DL360 Gen9 servers as compute nodes:

Another common deployment we see is for customers who have made an investment in blade servers, such as Cisco UCS B-Series environment. The blades can also be used as compute nodes with the SimpliVity DVP providing storage. This typically looks something like this for a UCS B-Series environment:

In both of these scenarios the SimpliVity datastores are presented to the compute nodes as NFS datastores.
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Apr 18

Raspberry Pi Project: Telescope Control and Imaging

A while back I did a post on using a Raspberry Pi to control my Celestron CG-5 mount with Stellarium. You can find that post here:

The Raspberry Pi mounted to my 80mm Stellarvue Scope with a solar filter for imaging the sun.

Since then I have been working on a self contained, wireless, Raspberry Pi which I could use to not only control the telescope but also capture images from the eyepiece and stream the images to a laptop.

I wanted to keep the project around $100 and make the device completely self-contained so I can potentially use it at astronomy outreach events.
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Apr 12

Foundation in the Art of Infrastructure Design On the Way!

I have been looking forward to this book, It Architect: Foundation in the Art of Infrastructure Design: A Practical Guide for It Architects, being released ever since I got a peak at the draft at VMworld last year. Ordered a copy yesterday and thanks to Amazon Prime I should have it Thursday!!!

The books authors, John Arrasjid VCDX001 (@vcdx001), Mark Gabryjelski VCDX023 (@MarkGabbs), and Chris McCain VCDX017 (@hcmccain), are all rockstars in the VMware Community – great people always willing to share their knowledge. Based on what I saw back in August, this book will likely become the go to resource for folks preparing for the VMware advanced design exams or working to successfully prepare and defend a VCDX design.

Looking forward to reading It Architect: Foundation in the Art of Infrastructure Design: A Practical Guide for It Architects and a review will follow.

Mar 17

The 2nd Must Have PowerCLI Reference

Of course the first must have PowerCLI reference was the first edition of the VMware vSphere PowerCLI Reference book which has had a spot on my desk for the last couple years and I refer to it often. I recently picked up the 2nd Edition of the book and it has now taken the 1st Edition’s spot on the desk to become my go to PowerCLI reference.

VMware vSphere PowerCLI Reference is organized, well written, with tons of useful examples. If you are new to PowerCLI or if you just need a fantastic reference to help out now and again this is it!

I refer to the book often when I get stuck trying work through a PowerCLI script or when I need an idea on how or what can be done to automate a task using PowerCLI. If you are interested in using PowerCLI to automate common vSphere tasks this book is worth its weight in gold (it is a pretty hefty book, so that is a LOT).

Mar 16

Updating VCSA to 6.0U2 using the Appliance Management UI

I just finished updating my home lab to 6.0U1b yesterday and VMware has just released 6.0 Update 2 for both vCenter and ESXi (vCenter 6.0 Update 2 Release Notes are here). Figured I would write up how easy it is to update the vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) to Update 2 using the Appliance Management UI.

The vCenter Server Appliance Management Interface or VAMI was not included in the original GA release of the 6.0 VCSA. It was re-introduced in one of the early updates to 6.0 and renamed the Appliance Management UI. The Appliance Management UI is accessed via https://IP_Address_of_VCSA:5480/ and allows you to do some common administrative tasks including: network configuration, time configuration, access settings, password management, and VCSA updates/patching.
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Mar 16

Anatomy of a vSphere Installation Bundle (VIB)

I just finished updating my home lab ESXi host to ESXi 6.0U1b. I was just poking around after doing the update and thought it might be useful to dig into the vSphere Installation Bundle or VIB.

A VIB is an installation package which containing software, updates, patches, and drivers which can be installed on ESXi hosts. The VIB file is an archive which includes a XML descriptor file, a signature file, and the payload. Multiple VIBs can be packaged in a bundle or depot. VIBs and bundles can be installed on ESXi hosts using vSphere Update Manager (VUM), using esxcli, or can be incorporated into an ESXi image using the Image Builder PowerCLI tools.
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